NU Online News Service, Feb. 4, 2:52 p.m. EST

QBE Insurance Group Ltd., of Australia, continued its buying spree in the U.S. Thursday by acquiring most of the insurance portfolio of Balboa Insurance Group from Bank of America.

Under the deal, QBE entered into an initial 10-year distribution agreement with Bank of America for Irvine, Calif-based Balboa’s portfolio of coverage of foreclosed homes and force-placed homeowners, contents, motor and other related consumer lines and associated services.

Balboa’s lender’s mortgage insurance business is not included.

QBE will pay Bank of America $700 million upfront for the Balboa portfolio it is acquiring. The portfolio is valued at $1.2 billion. QBE will also pay unspecified further cash to Bank of America, according to data supplied by both companies.

Bank of America acquired Balboa through its acquisition of Countrywide Mortgage Corp. in 2008.

QBE completed the acquisition of NAU Country, a crop insurer, Ramsey, Minn., last June.

Balboa competes with Munich Re, QBE and Assurant—the No. 1 seller in the U.S. market of forced-placed insurance, which is a form of coverage that costs more than homeowners policies because the properties are more prone to neglect.

Banks require mortgage investors to purchase insurance protecting seized houses against vandalism and storm damage.

QBE also announced its Americas division has created a U.S.-based general aviation underwriting operation. The aviation team is headquartered in Atlanta and is designed to expand the company’s global aviation activities, QBE said. QBE already writes aviation insurance in Europe, Australia, New Zealand, Asia and the Pacific.